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Gillingham 0 Fulham under-21s 1: Bristol Street Motors Trophy group stage match report from Priestfield | Birthday-boy Aaron Loupalu-Bi scores winner

Head coach Stephen Clemence took charge of a game at Priestfield for the first time on Tuesday but the night ended in defeat.

Visitors Fulham took the lead late in the first-half of the EFL Trophy match through Aaron Loupalu-Bi – on his 18th birthday – and that goal was enough to knock the Gills out at the group stage of the competition, the under-21s from the capital winning 1-0.

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence took charge for the first time at Priestfield on Tuesday night Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence took charge for the first time at Priestfield on Tuesday night Picture: @Julian_KPI

Clemence took the opportunity to give others in the squad a run-out after his first game in charge at the weekend, an FA Cup win in Hereford. Defender Shad Ogie was the only player to remain in the starting XI.

A win for either team on the night would have sent them through to the second round of the competition which had a new sponsor, now known as the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.

Fulham bossed the opening moments of the game, forcing the Gills on the defensive, and it needed a couple of blocks to deny Imani Lanquedoc and visiting captain Ollie O’Neill.

Once the Gills started moving the ball around quickly, confidence grew, and they got themselves into the match.

Josh Chambers was close to getting a shot away inside the box following a good move. Matty Macarthur did pull the trigger after another good passage of play but keeper Steven Benda was equal to it.

A glancing header from Max Ehmer off Max Clark’s free-kick also forced Benda into a save.

The game ebbed and flowed and it was Fulham who got their noses infront just before the break. Gills lost possession on the attack and from Chris Donnell’s right-sided cross, Loupalu-Bi nipped in between keeper Glenn Morris and Ehmer to finish.

Gillingham had looked good in spells during the half but lacked the end product.

Following an opening half that had seen chances at both ends coming quite frequently, the action dried up at the start of the second. The hour mark was reached with very little to report on.

Changes were made by the Gills as Ethan Coleman and Jonny Williams were introduced from the bench.

Tom Nichols had a free-kick on the edge of the box that was deflected wide with 20 minutes left and it wasn’t long before Clemence was turning to his bench once more.

Macaulay Bonne and Jayden Clarke took to the field shortly after the hard-working Walker came close to an equaliser, cutting inside and looking to fire across keeper Benda, but the Fulham stopper made the save.

The game started to open up more in the latter stages as Jonathan Esenga slid onto a cross to put an effort over the bar for Fulham and Clarke had a shot blocked as he looked to find a way through.

Walker shot narrowly wide late on and Nichols also went close before the end of normal time.

There were seven minutes added on for the Gills to get themselves a goal. From a corner the Gills had a chance, cleared to Clarke where his shot was blocked, the home side’s final meaningful effort of the night.

Gillingham: Morris, Orji, Clark, Ogie (Masterson 46mins), Ehmer, Chambers (Clarke 75mins), Dieng (Coleman 61mins), Lapslie (J Williams 61mins), Macarthur (Bonne 75mins), Nichols, Walker. Subs not used: Turner, Alexander.

Fulham u21: Benda, Tanton, Esenga, Odutayo, Araujo, Francois (Pajaziti 64mins), Donnell (Okkas 90mins), Harris, Lanquedoc (Gordon 85mins), O’Neill, Loupalo-Bi (Sekularac 85mins). Subs not used: Borto, Williams, Osmand.

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 1,226.

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